Friendship Service Center

By Tim Schilling

Since graduating high school, I have been saving up money in order to move to California, my dream since as long as I can remember, to work in film. When I had a serious talk about it with my parents one night, my father told me how incredibly difficult it would be to not only break into the industry, but to also live on my own across the country and having to deal with “all the things you don’t see on the news.” He said that I have been too sheltered living where I do and how I have been raised my entire life. I brushed it off and thought that with a few friends, we can totally move across country to really start our lives.
I have never really seen homelessness in my life before. The only things I have seen about it are what is portrayed in the movies or on TV (thanks Hollywood. The irony) or what is shown on the internet. After going to the Friendship Service Center in New Britain, I can now see why my dad said that I have been too sheltered my entire life.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first walked into the building. Was it going to be dirty? Was it going to smell? Were there going to be people, kids, asking me for change? That’s what is shown in movies and TV all the time. The stereotype for the homeless, you could say. After given a tour of a few apartments in the building and meeting some of the residents that live there, I realized that almost everything I knew about homelessness was constructed solely on what I have seen in movies and on TV. The building was clean and smelled just like any other building. The staff was friendly and seemed to be always smiling, despite the rather depressing environment that they work in.
The residents weren’t anything I was expecting. Everyone was rather normal. I had expected to see people begging, screaming, for food or for help (again, thanks Hollywood stereotyping). But not much was even going on. Maybe we had gone on a slow day. The dining hall, mostly filled with minorities and a few children, was just as tame. Everyone was in the room, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
So in the end, my father was right. I am very sheltered, and this was really the first experience I have ever had with something that “you don’t see on the news.” It makes me nervous that in California, where as an aspiring filmmaker, things like this happen all the time to people who have the same dreams as me (or is that just the movies and TV talking again?).

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